Shumran Hafoudh, an integration course lecturer, lives in an inter-cultural family environment himself; for this reason, he finds it easy to understand the needs of migrants who recently came to the Czech Republic. An active lecturer, he teaches inter-cultural competencies to civil servants and helps bridge the inter-cultural gap in companies. For several years, he worked as a migrant consultant in an NGO.
What is the biggest benefit the integration courses can give to the participants, in your opinion?
The biggest benefit is the possibility to hear all relevant information for their daily life in the Czech Republic in a single day. It also includes contact details of institutions and links to organizations where the course participants can receive reliable relevant information and professional advice. The course participants are very grateful for any information. It often happens that the participants would like to continue the course to learn even more details.
How do the participants perceive assistance provided by NGOs?
It is important to always explain to the participants where such help comes from, how is it financed and why the funding is provided by the state. Migrants are not used to receiving such assistance in their country of origin. The participants appreciate services provided to them by NGOs very much, especially, when I can give specific information about specific assistance as a lecturer. For example, I mean direct assistance in administrative proceedings conducted by the Ministry of the Interior. Such administrative proceedings are too complex even for native Czechs, let alone for foreigners. Then, there is further support in the form of information or consulting in legal and social issues, such as finding a school or a kindergarten for children. Czech language courses or cultural events are another important thing offered by such organizations because they allow people to establish contacts or improve their Czech language skills.
What mistakes do foreigners make most often?
The most serious mistakes always concern administrative proceedings related to residence permits. Foreigners often do not realize how important administrative proceedings are, and they sometime neglect their duties. For example, they fail to comply with a deadline, which can lead to termination of proceedings to obtain residence permit in the Czech Republic. It is also important to stay at the address communicated by the foreigner to the Ministry of the Interior, because that is where correspondence related to the proceedings will be served. Another frequent mistake is failure to label the mailbox; as the result, letters from the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic cannot be served on the foreigner. All this can have grave consequences for the foreigner.
It is crucial to understand the nature of the residence permit which is always linked to a specific purpose of stay. Purpose of stay is always linked to different rights and duties. No foreigner can stay in the Czech Republic without a specified purpose of stay, be it for a single day, unless the foreigner already has a permanent residence permit. Therefore, if a student decides to get employed or start a business after graduation, this change must be both performed in real life and reported to the Ministry of the Interior to change the purpose of stay.
How do you like teaching integration courses?
I find teaching integration courses is a lot of fun. I like it when I can understand the needs of the participants, and respond accordingly. I like it when the course has certain dynamics, and the participants are active. Then we all share this feeling that we used the time well. I hope that the participants also enjoy the courses.